Intermediate Full Body Strength Workout

This workout is a progression from the beginner total body workout. It includes more advanced exercises and incorporates a barbell into many movements. If you don't have a barbell, you can continue to use dumbbells.

Do this workout 2 to 3 non-consecutive days a week, taking at least one day of rest between workouts. If weight loss is a goal, combine this workout with regular cardio and a healthy, low-calorie diet.


See your doctor before beginning this strength workout if you have any injuries or medical conditions.


To perform the movements, you will need a barbell (medium to heavy) and various weighted dumbbells.

How To

To do this workout:

  • Begin with a 5 to 10 minute warm-up of light cardio (walking in place, etc.).
  • Perform each exercise for 1 to 3 sets of 10 to 16 repetitions, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
  • Use enough weight that you can only complete the desired number of reps.
  • For shorter workouts, split this into separate upper and lower body workouts. 
  • Combine with an ab workout for a complete workout.

Barbell Squats

woman doing barbell squats

jacoblund / iStock


Squats help build your quadriceps (the muscles on the front of your upper legs), glutes (buttocks), and hamstrings (the back of the upper leg). They are also one of the three most recommended exercises in sports training.

  1. Stand with feet wider than your shoulders, with the barbell resting on the meaty part of your shoulders (on your trapezius muscles behind the neck). 
  2. Bend your knees and, keeping your chest up, lower into a squat. 
  3. Keep your abs in and engaged.  
  4. Push through the heels to rise back up.
  5. Repeat for 16 reps.

If you don't have a barbell, you can use dumbbells or squat with no weight at all. 


Walking Lunges

woman in park performing walking lunges

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Walking lunges help build the muscles in your lower body, from your calves up to your hamstrings, quads, and glutes. This movement is also suitable for improving your balance, stability, and range of motion.

  1. Stand with your feet together.
  2. Step your right foot forward into a lunge, taking both knees to 90 degrees.
  3. Step together with your left foot, then step forward with the left foot into a lunge. 
  4. Continue alternating legs for the length of the room.
  5. Repeat for 2 to 4 laps across the room.


A man performing a deadlift

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The deadlift helps strengthen the muscles in your hips, thighs, and back. Studies indicate that this move is good for improving actions such as sprinting and long jumping and increasing general sports performance.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, the weights in front of your thighs.
  2. Keeping your back flat and abs in, send your hips backward like you've got your hands full of groceries and you're trying to shut the car door with your butt.
  3. Lower your torso toward the floor, keeping your hands close to your legs and your shoulders back.
  4. Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings to raise back up.
  5. All movement should be from the hips; don't round your back. 
  6. Repeat for 16 reps.

Sumo Squats

man performing sumo squat with kettlebell in living room

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As with a regular squat, a sumo squat is excellent for building strength in the lower body. However, this squat effectively strengthens the vastus lateralis (the largest quad muscle) and adductor longus (which extends between the thigh and hip).

  1. Stand in a wide stance with your toes out at about a 45-degree angle.
  2. Hold a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell in both hands.
  3. Keeping the torso upright, bend the knees into a squat.
  4. Lower as far as you can, keeping the knees in line with the toes.
  5. Push into the heels to come back up.
  6. Repeat for 16 reps.


a woman doing a pushup

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

If you want an exercise that works your upper body and core, the push-up delivers. Research has also found that people who can do 40 push-ups are at a lower risk of cardiovascular events than those who can complete 10 push-ups or fewer.

  1. Begin in a push-up position on your hands and toes, with your hands a bit wider than your shoulders.
  2. Keep your abs braced, bend your elbows, and lower into a push-up position, or until your elbows are about 90 degrees. (Don't sag in the middle.) 
  3. Push back up to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for 16 to 20 reps.

Chest Presses

Barbell Chest Press

Paige Waehner / Verywell

The chest press is another exercise that is good for the upper body. This movement targets your pectorals—often referred to as "pecs" for short—which are the largest muscles in your chest.

To do a chest press:

  1. Lie on a step, bench, or on the floor and hold the barbell a few inches above your chest.
  2. Keeping your trunk braced, exhale and push the weight up without locking your elbows.
  3. Lower and repeat for 16 reps.

You can use dumbbells if you don't have a barbell handy. Research has found that using dumbbells to do the chest press may create less muscle soreness than using a barbell.


Barbell Rows

Rowing Barbell
Bojan656 / Getty Images

The barbell row works primarily your upper and middle back, as well as the muscles surrounding your elbow joint. However, it also activates your lower body and core muscles to help provide stability and balance during the movement.

  1. Hold a barbell (or dumbbells) in front of your body.
  2. Send your hips backward, bringing the torso to about a 45-degree angle (or parallel to the floor if you want to make it harder). Your knees are slightly bent.
  3. Bend your arms and bring your elbows toward your ribcage, contracting the lat muscles (outer back) during the movement. Keep the abs braced. 
  4. Lower the barbell (or dumbbells) and repeat for 16 reps.

Dumbbell Pullovers

Ben Goldstein / Verywell

Dumbbell pullovers target the muscles in your upper back. That makes this exercise fantastic for building the same muscles you use to lift groceries or pick up your children and grandchildren.

  1. Lie faceup on a bench or exercise ball (harder) and hold a medium-to-heavy dumbbell by one end with both hands, straight over your chest.
  2. Keeping your back on the bench and using control, slowly lower the weight behind your head with your arms slightly bent until your arms are level with the bench.
  3. Squeeze your back to pull the weight back up to start.
  4. Repeat for 16 reps.

Side Steps with Arnold Press

This exercise works the upper body and lower body at the same time. The step/squat movement strengthens your quads and glutes. The overhead press recruits your shoulder muscles.

  1. Hold the weights at chest level, your palms facing in.
  2. Take a wide step out to the right into a squat.
  3. As you step the right foot back to the center, press the dumbbells overhead while turning your palms forward.
  4. Lower the weights as you step out again, this time to the left.
  5. Continue with this movement, alternating sides.
  6. Repeat for 16 reps.

You can also add a jump instead of a step for more intensity.


Iron Cross Squats

This exercise is another total body strength training move. You'll feel your lower body muscles working when doing the squat, and your shoulders, back, and arms when raising the arms and moving them into a cross position.

  1. Hold the weights in front of your thighs.
  2. Squat as you lift the weights up into a front raise.
  3. Take the arms out to the sides as you stand up, then lower them down.
  4. Repeat for 16 reps.

Triceps Dips

Tricep dips

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Triceps dips help strengthen the muscles on the back of the upper arm, giving them a firmer appearance. Your triceps also aid in elbow joint movement, adding strength to pushing and pulling motions.

  1. Sit on a bench or chair with your hands resting next to your thighs.
  2. Push up and bring the hips out, with your butt just brushing the bench and your knees bent.
  3. Bend your elbows and lower your body down, staying close to the bench until your elbows are at 90 degrees.
  4. Push up and repeat.
  5. Repeat for 16 reps.

Straighten your legs for more intensity.


One-Arm Triceps Push-Ups

One Arm Triceps Pushup
Ben Goldstein

Many exercises can help strengthen your triceps. This push-up variation places greater emphasis on these muscles, relying on them to help raise your upper body off the floor.

  1. Lie down on your left side and bend your knees slightly, keeping your hips and knees stacked.
  2. Wrap your left arm around your torso so that your left hand is resting on the right side of your waist.
  3. Place your right hand on the floor in front of you, your palm parallel to the body.
  4. Squeeze your triceps and push your body up.
  5. Lower and repeat for 8 to 10 reps before switching sides.

Biceps Curls

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Biceps curls are good for building muscle on the front of your upper arm. That makes them beneficial for activities such as lifting grocery bags out of the trunk or pulling the cord on a pull-start mower.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. As shown above, hold a barbell (or dumbbells) in front of your thighs, palms facing out.
  3. Bend your elbows and bring the weights toward your shoulders without swinging them.
  4. In a controlled movement, lower the weights back down.
  5. Repeat for 16 reps.

You can also use a kettlebell to perform these curls.


Single-Leg Hammer Curls

Woman balancing on one leg with knee raised

Ben Goldstein / Verywell

This exercise involves performing hammer curls while standing on one leg. The benefit of this movement is that you engage your legs and core—in addition to your biceps—to stay balanced. That means the exercise works more of your muscle groups.

  1. In a standing position, lift your left leg off the ground and balance on the right leg (as shown above).
  2. Let your arms hang at your sides, a dumbbell in each hand, your palms facing in.
  3. Bend your elbows and bring the weights toward your shoulders (without swinging your elbows).
  4. Lower back down and repeat 12 to 16 times before switching legs.
8 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Del Vecchio L, Daewoud H, Green S. The health and performance benefits of the squat, deadlift, and bench press. Yoga Physical Ther. 2018;3(2):40-7. doi:10.15416/mojypt.2018.03.00042

  2. Boyd J, Milton K. The undervalued lunge. National Strength and Conditioning Association.

  3. American Council on Exercise. Deadlift.

  4. Coratella G, Tornatore G, Caccavale F, Longo S, Esposito F, Ce E. The activation of gluteal, thigh, and lower back muscles in different squat variations performed by competitive bodybuilders: implications for resistance training. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18(2):772. doi:10.3390/ijerph18020772

  5. Yang J, Christophi C, Farioli A. Association between push-up exercise capacity and future cardiovascular events among active adult men. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(2):e188341. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.8341

  6. Ferreira D, Ferreira-Junior J, Soares S, et al. Chest press exercises with different stability requirements result in similar muscle damage recovery in resistance-trained men. J Strength Cond Res. 2017;31(1):71-9. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000001453

  7. Ronai P. The barbell row exercise. ACSM's Health Fitness J. 2017;21(2):25-8. doi:10.1249/FIT.0000000000000278

  8. Tiwana M, Sinkler M, Bordoni B. Anatomy, shoulder and upper limb, triceps muscle. StatPearls.

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."